The Limits of Control, the 11th feature by the New York-born auteur Jim Jarmusch, is another work that is inarguably stamped by its director's idiosyncrasies and, like Volver, there have been several critics who have questioned if its artistic success is not so much a result of it being a Jarmusch film rather than simply a good film. It emits a dark-shade cool, as befits any Jarmusch joint, and it features several of the director's usual performers, including the Ivorian-born actor Isaach De Bankolé in the lead.
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Marshall gives the film, especially its early scenes where Sayuri (Ziyi Zhang) gets schooled in the hard-knock ways of the okiya, a goodly amount of sound and fury that has more than a hint of Spielberg to it (the original director of the project, he stayed on as producer). Having one of the world's most photogenic period settings, Marshall makes all that he can of it, and the results are astonishing. This is a film of fluttering cherry blossoms and dark alleyways lit by paper lanterns, where all houses have their own deftly-maintained garden and everyone is dressed to the nines. The problem is that no amount of amped-up drama or pretty window-dressing can make up for the fact that the phenomenally talented cast has been stuck with hackneyed dialogue to deliver in English - a first language for none of them.
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Unfortunately, Snow Falling on Cedars, directed by Scott Hicks (Shine), is a prime example of an unsuccessful interpretation of a tremendous novel.
Continue reading: Snow Falling on Cedars Review
Supremely cinematic and richly drawn in penetrating, slow-burn emotions, "Snow Falling On Cedars" is a truly transporting, layered, period drama that uses the railroading murder trial of a Japanese-American in post-war Washington state as the backdrop for a story about the lasting scars of injustice.
Director Scott Hicks' prestige follow-up to "Shine," one of the films that led the 1996 independent film insurgence into the mainstream, this passionate adaptation of Dave Guterson's deeply layered novel (scripted by the director and screenwriter Ron Bass) stars Ethan Hawke as a reticent newspaperman and war vet who covers the trial and pursues the truth on his own while becoming awash in memories of his forbidden first love -- with a Japanese girl who is now the defendant's wife.
Told initially from Hawke's point of view, as the trial unfolds, its scope widens to include the memories of others, like the girl (Youki Hudoh, a Japanese actress and pop star with an startling, yet understated, emotional range), who remembers being separated from Hawke at first by cultural taboos and then by the government order that sent her family -- and all the Japanese on their quiet forest island -- to internment camps for the duration of the war.
Continue reading: Snow Falling On Cedars Review
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